Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Flying Tigers memorial

The People's Republic of China dedicates a memorial to the Flying Tigers according to this AP article published in Yahoo! News.

This is actually pretty good news. As the writer alludes, it was Chaing Kai-Shek that the American Volunteer Group was formed to fight for. Chennault, with unofficial blessing of President Roosevelt, was able to recruit from the American armed forces 100 pilots and ground crew while taking over from the RAF 100 Curtiss Tomahawk fighters. Their mission would be to defend China from the depradations of a militarisitc Japan that had already raped Nanking and other atrocities.

The AVG's existence would be brief as the writer states. Arriving in Burma at an RAF airfield for training in their fighters and to learn Chennault's tactics in late 1941 until disbandment in July 1942, that would be the length of the AVG's tour. On July 4th, 1942 the American Volunteer Group was officially disbanded and in its place stood up the 23rd Fighter Group of the China Air Task Force under the command of Robert L. Scott and assisted by a few AVG veterans like Major Tex Hill.

It is fitting that this memorial be erected in Kuming. It was there that the AVG first taught the Japanese to respect them as a potent military force in China. It was also the war time capital of China and the terminus for the Burma Road. Hopefully some of the few remaining AVG veterans will get to see this memorial along with Chinese who helped them defend China. Once again the writer is correct in saying the Flying Tigers are a potent example of US-China unity. Nevermind the freely elected successors to Chaing Kai-Shek live on an island called Taiwan while Mao's successors, like any good Mandarins, adapt foreign ideas to the Middle Kingdom.

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